Perhaps you have heard or read of Alan and Bonnie Aerts, whose home in toney Monte Sereno, California, was for many years the scene of hyper-elaborate seasonal son et lumière complete with surfing santas, hot air balloons, holograms and what have you. The display drew viewers from miles around but ultimately grew tiresome to the neighbors, who did what good Americans do in such situations: they sent in the lawyers.
The neighbors succeeded in persuading the city to impose a permitting requirement, effectively shutting down the yuletide arts of the Aerts. This year, the former abundance of conspicuous Christmassitude has been replaced with a single 10-foot tall Grinch.
NPR reported the story yesterday, informing us that for four to five hours per night the great green creature spouts smoke, flashes its eyes, and points at the home of the spoilsport neighbors, all the while playing a loop of the great Thurl Ravenscroft's immortal rendition of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." (Listen here.) Which leads this Fool of a lawyer to wonder: Have the Aerts paid appropriate royalties for the public performance rights to that song and, if not, when will the RIAA's legal staff be descending upon them?
Update (12/02/04): As an attorney myself, I should know better than to joke about legal teams descending upon the unsuspecting in intellectual property cases. Exhibit A: Jason Kottke, who is apparently still in the clutches of Sony's lawyers, irate over his temporary posting of audio from Ken Jennings' final appearance on Jeopardy! (which I linked below). Advocates of free-ranging expression on weblogs, such as Jeff Jarvis, are put out, to say the least. This is a topic to which I will have to return, if I can find the time to give it the thought it deserves.